See more from this Session: Symposium--Local/Regional Food Systems and Community Food Security: Making the Connection
Monday, November 1, 2010: 3:15 PM
Long Beach Convention Center, Room 102A, First Floor
The high level of poverty and its high population growth rate make South Asia one of the most challenging regions in the developing world. 37% of the poorest of the poor live in this region, where there is an extreme malnutrition, and food insecurity, particularly in the eastern part of the sub-continent including Bangladesh, eastern India, and Nepal. Maize and wheat production are two of the economic mainstays but the productivity of these cropping systems lags far behind their potential. The yield gap between farmerís fields and experimental yields is wide across all South Asian countries. However, one of the main causes of low yields in the region is farmerís continued cultivation of old maize and wheat varieties. These varieties are genetically inferior to more recently developed materials, and are more susceptible to diseases. Two factors, in turn, seem to be holding back the dissemination of newer varieties: inadequate extension and poor seed production systems. Thousands of farmers have been participating in CIMMYTís partnerships in South Asia addressing gender perspective and empowerment issues. Results show considerable improvement in the access of farmers to new varieties and technologies in the rural areas. Yield increases (15-70%) have been achieved by resource poor farmers over the existing varieties through the adoption of new wheat and maize cultivars and resource-conserving techniques (RCTs). Wheat farmers have also made substantial cost savings and achieved higher yields through RCTs such as zero till. Farmers can obtain significant net profits by intercropping cash crops with maize. Tens of thousands of farming households have rapidly adopted project varieties and technologies and benefited from them. This paper discusses the participatory research methodologies that have been used to increase food security and improve the livelihoods of poor maize and wheat farmers in countries of South Asia including the hills of Nepal.